Written by: Lois Kennedy
Billy is a mental patient who has killed his abusive mother as well as his stepfather. Now he just wants to be home for Christmas—and kill a few more people while he’s at it. Since home is now a sorority house, he has a stable full of nubile young ladies to pick off one by one. It’s up to Final Girl Kelli to stop him from killing all of her buddies.
I loved the original Black Christmas, directed by Bob Clark. It’s surprisingly un-corny for 1974, the performances are great, and it’s fairly creepy. Glen Morgan’s remake lost me right at the start when Billy fatally shanks a guard with a candy cane. Yes, this version has a definite tongue-in-cheek quality, but really, we deserve better than that. It’s also more gross than the original and not scary at all. A creepy aspect of the original is that the killer is never explained; he has no back story, no name, and he barely has a face, as much of him is off-screen (except for a really creepy shot of his eye peeping through a keyhole). His threatening calls are often hard to understand, a mixture of howls and gibberish. The mystery is what makes him eerie. All Billy has going for him is that he likes to eat eyes and make cookies out of human flesh. Also for some reason the filmmakers decided to give him a liver disease that causes yellow skin and an obnoxious catch phrase: when Billy kills someone he claims “[insert victim’s name here] is my family now.”
The only interesting change is the theme of dysfunctional families. Billy’s incestuous family is juxtaposed with his victims’ families; most of the girls are in their sorority house at Christmas because they don’t get along with their families—one girl even expresses a desire to bury a hatchet in her sister’s head. The remake also modernizes a great feature of the original: the old killer-calling-from-inside-the-house bit. Billy uses his victims’ cell phones to taunt their friends. It’s a rather necessary update—most people I know don’t even have one landline anymore, never mind two. Though it does beg the questions of (a) how he knows how to use a cell phone, given that he was locked in an attic for his entire childhood and then in an asylum since 1991, and (b) how he knows who to call on the phones—surely the ladies have more numbers in their contact list than their sorority sisters. I can’t imagine this slobbering maniac crouched patiently at a vent to catch everyone’s names before murdering them.
It’s nice that the filmmakers included Andrea Martin from the cast of Clark’s Black Christmas as dorm mother Mrs. Mac, but not nice enough to make me like the movie. (Though it is refreshing that the bumbling cops from the original don’t make an appearance.) I’d say Kelli is a cleverer Final Girl than Jess from the original, though both have equally bad taste in men. To sum up: Bob Clark’s Black Christmas is creepy and atmospheric. Glen Morgan’s Black Christmas is disgusting and immature. Treat this one like Billy’s mother does her son: pay it some attention, then lock it in the attic.
Lois Kennedy is an avid horror fan who also loves to write. You can find her under her pseudonym GhoulieJoe on YouTube, WordPress, and Facebook.